The rapid evolution of digital technology and the change it has had on business could be likened to having an equal, if not greater impact on the world as the Industrial Revolution. This digital transformation has fundamentally changed the habits of individuals, business and society.
For Associations and not-for-profits to survive, digital technology should be front and centre of the thinking of the boards that govern these organisations as it is one of the most strategic issues that they face. Board members need to understand the benefits and risks associated with digital transformation, including the risks of inaction.
Digital transformation is about how a company can compete better using technology, and not just about the technology itself. Digital transformation doesn’t need to be about massive industry disruption – think Uber, Airbnb – it can be about using digital innovations to improve or expand upon current business systems or processes to begin achieving a sustainable competitive advantage.
Boards with a diversity of skill sets, including digital and technology skills are going to be better placed to deal with both the challenge, and opportunity that digital presents. Here are five starting questions that all directors should be considering around the board table whether or not they have an IT or digital background.
1. What is it we really do? What strategies and actions are we pursuing to achieve our ambitions, and how will they contribute to building a sustainable competitive advantage?
2. What technologies could impact our business?
3. What are the risks of maintaining the status quo?
4. Do we have the right people on board to achieve our digital ambitions
5. Are we investing enough resources (human, financial) into digital technologies?
Digital transformation should be viewed in the context of creating a business model that provides a sustainable competitive advantage, and less about the technology. As the pace of change continues to get quicker, boards will need to be agile and adapt if the organisations they govern are to remain relevant to their members and the communities they serve into the future.